20 March 2006
THE MISSING LINKS
Owing to numerous complaints of dead links in our .pdf copy of John Howards disappeared speech, Reflections on the Situation in Iraq, these links have been re-activated below. Also included are new links which support the PMs re-appraisal of the invasions aftermath. A link to the text version of the speech, with some background on its removal, is available.
The domain name, johnhowardpm.org, is hosted by Melbourne IT. In less than 36 hours of its launch, following 10,500 visits to the site, the plug was pulled. By who? On what grounds? It took three days for Melb IT to make contact with me and help lift the veils of confusion. After receiving a phone call from Greg Williams of the People, Resources & Communications Division at the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet, Melb IT put the domain name on HOLD, where it remains. This domain cannot be transferred to another, more resilient host, for 60 days. In addition to the complaint from John Howards office, Melbourne IT said they had received calls from THREE Federal Police, and provided the name of an agent from the Australian High Tech Crime Centre. As far as I know, my passport has not met the same fate as my
So, what is the crime?
The nasty tech term is phishing, pronounced fishing. A comment on whether this applies to jonhnhowardpm.org comes from one of hundreds of emailers: For Melbourne IT to consider this a phishing site is ludicrous - phishing has to involve you deliberately trying to con people into giving up some sort of valuable personal information, not just stealing Johnny's traffic from Google. Phishing goes to identity theft, credit card fraud etc. and has nothing to do with satire - it is necessarily criminal in nature! Emulation is not in and of itself enough to constitute phishing.
There is a process that has to be followed if their is any contention over the intellectual property inherent in a domain name. You're entitled to be notified and to argue your case. Melbourne IT is bound to follow this process, and I suggest that you complain to ICANN. I think it's also pretty well established that you can't claim copyright in a person's name.
Furthermore if there's any debate over the actual content of the site being hosted and the intellectual property contained therein, that's a civil matter - a copyright matter - and has to be taken up through the courts. In other words the Attorney General would have had to send you a nice letter asking you to "cease and desist" because you had infringed a copyright vested in the Commonwealth. Thanks for that.
I freely admit that johnhoawrdpm.org looked similar to the previously unknown site that hosts the speeches of the PM, and that this similarity was intentional. My purpose was to make the noble sentiments emanating from the mind of a troubled John Howard seem convincing, if only for a few hours. Without this visual reinforcement, the notion that our PM was being honestly self reflective about the human costs of invading to Iraq , and that he "was looking into his heart", even expressing doubts, etc, would have been dismissed.
An enormous number of people believed the mock speech to be true, - and were thrilled, they report - and many more wanted to believe it. On a second reading, however, or with a bit of playing around, it is obvious that johnhowardpm.org operated in a satirical zone. Would the real John Howard have linked to anti war sites? Or admitted that this claims about improved infrastructure were bogus? Or criticised the US treatment of prisoners, the killing of journalists, the bombing of hospitals?
Yes, johnhowardpm is similar to the PMs site, just as The Chaser's ABC TV series CNNN, captured the tone and design of the real network. Would the site have been left standing if it was less like Johns Howards lonely, grey, un-noticed original? Well never know. Any first time visitor to the US parody site, http://www.whitehouse.org/ , would be alarmingly misled, although http://www.whitehouse.gov had yet to send in the Feds. You be the judge.
SOME ON-LINE REACTIONS
JOHN HOWARDS ORIGINAL HOTLINKS
LINKS IN SUPPORT OF JOHN HOWARDS RE-THINK
SYRIANA AND THE SHIFTING WINDS
Journal of a Futurist - 1 March 2006
Every time I push people to see Syriana, the Arab/Texas oil romp, they emerge impressed, yet bewildered. No-one fully understands the plot, probably not even the writer. Its one of Syrianas many virtues. A geopolitical intrigue touching CIA terror, suicide bombers, spoilt princes, feminist mothers and the rise of China is bound to be murky and complex. Holes in the story are true to life. A furtive achievement is its sympathetic insight into the moulding of a suicide bomber, played by Mazhar Munir, whose performance is gripping. While the sweep is global, the metaphoric skyline is Iraq, awash with oil, blood and extracted fingernails.
Another big-picture critique of the West is the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, who feels weighed down with guilt for the wreckage he and his colleagues have inflicted on the developing world. The paperback edition is flying out the door of Australian bookshops, hurrah.
A former Peace Corps activist, Perkins was lured by an executive prostitute into Halliburton Heaven, a vortex of Lear Jets, pillage and dodgy statistics. His inflated forecasts of growth served to increase the indebtedness of client states, adding to the poverty of their people and the profits of his employers. Any odd glitch, such as an elected third world leader with good intentions is dealt with by the CIA. The story is almost too evil to be true, and yet Perkins case is solid. The book reprints his photo/bio from corporate brochures, names, dates, minutes of meetings, corroborating sources. A veteran hit on the New York Times & Washington Post best-seller lists, this book was largely ignored by mainstream reviewers. Its revelations make Syriana seem soft.
ALL THAT IS WRONG IN
The State Memorial Service for loveable media magnate, Kerry Packer, inspired a former employee, Richard Walsh, to go into print with some of his own special memories and reflections on Australias champion tax avoider. Packer had utter contempt for politicians, for the arts, for idealism of any kind, for the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and for those who did not share his world view writes Walsh, a former teenage satirist. His ethics were defined simply as whatever the law allows
In some ways he unfortunately represents all that is wrong with contemporary Australia. In response to an appreciative email, the co-founder of Sydney Oz magazine replied: I have NEVER had such a tsunami of enthusiasm in all my born days. Clearly I touched a nerve.
Around the same time I happened to see the first of The Chasers War on Everything (ABC, Fridays) and was thrilled at the reach of its boot. Clips emailed from mainstream US TV, including David Letterman, reveal a revival of political satire that three months ago would have been unthinkable, thanks to Dick Cheneys trigger finger.
Am I reading too much into straws in the wind? Are we finally watching an awakening? Are Australians, though our swimming pools be full and our global view obscured, becoming aware of the moral emptiness at the core of our political life? Or is it only the emptiness of the landscape that we notice, as featured in the current tourist blitz, SO WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU? Lost, perhaps. Appreciating the gifts Australia has to offer, but all too aware of the little shop of horrors at the core of Government. Slightly schizoid, we zoom off to forest and beach.
DOWN ON THEIR KNEES, AMEN
Even today there appears to be no-one in the media with access and courage enough to quiz Bush, Blair or Howard on their true feelings about the deaths and maiming of over a 100,000 Iraqis, many of them children, resulting from our intervention. John Howard lectures the nation on the perversions of Islam, without a hint of awareness that our deeds in the terror war are a perversion of Christianity.
Meanwhile, some Christian groups in the US are taking the kind of radical political stance that befits the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. As army chaplains bless the bombers and anoint the torturers, the US branch of the World Council of Churches has made a public confession to the Assembly of its Global Council, denouncing the policies of the White House.
We acknowledge that we are citizens of a nation that has done much in these years to endanger the human family and to abuse the creation .We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights. We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war; we acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name; we confess that we have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to deter our leaders from this path of preemptive war. Lord, have mercy. WCC members include mainline Protestants, Anglicans and Orthodox churches representing more than 500 million followers.
The confession continues: Rivers, oceans, lakes, rainforests, and wetlands that sustain us, even the air we breathe continue to be violated, and global warming goes unchecked while we allow Gods creation to veer toward destruction. Yet our own country refuses to acknowledge its complicity and rejects multilateral agreements aimed at reversing disastrous trends. Christ have Mercy. And so on.
And let me make my own confession. As the credits rolled on Syriana, the three of us felt so flat as we trudged for the exit. Why? An overheard remark from a teenager offers a clue: Syriana shows how fucked up the world is and theres nothing anyone can do about it. Its disconcerting for a work of art to leave you wiser, but feeling so disempowered. But not for long. Could the rash of confessions, the rebirth of satire and the rise of the politically savvy blockbuster be signalling a shift in the public mood away from soul-dead materialism?
Thanks to Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch for his moody contribution.
SCENES OUR MEDIA ARE TOO TIMID TO SHOW
Listed on US flights as embassy cargo, these planes pass unhindered through global airspace, the hooded prisoners unprotected by law. They haven't even been legally arrested. No limit will be set on the level of torture. The International Red Cross will not be notified. The prisoners have not been charged or convicted.
WHOSE BREAD YOU EAT,
WHOSE SONG YOU SING.
Journal of a Futurist - 25 January 2006
An Hong, Born 1963 Beijing, Untitled, 1998:
In an ongoing series of self-portraits and performances that he calls the Buddha series, An Hong mixes images taken from Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism with elements of popular culture. His sensual, theatrical tableaux throw a sceptical light on both traditional values and those of today's pleasure-seeking society. Of this series, An Hong writes, Buddha may be the monarch who blesses and protects our paths toward a life of kitsch.' The images and those which follow are from the exhibition, Between Past & Future, New Photography and Video from China, held at the V&A. Captions are from the catalogue.
The human potential movement emerged from the fuzzy fringes of late 60s counter culture and managed to shift desiccated radicals and potheads into another state of being. A state many of the original recruits try to maintain, with a focus on self growth and conscious evolution, despite the encroachment of global consumerism. Yoga is a franchise, meditation is a balm for harassed execs, enlightenment is a perfume. In many ways, the mind/body movement has won the day. Most of the activities offered to guests at resort hotels have been adapted from ashrams. Yoga mats at K-Mart. But this is not the big story. The big story is that human evolution is speeding up, and that it is being engineered by scientists with a mission.
In terms of human empowerment, the research is jaw dropping. How to enable humans to function without sleep or food for weeks on end, unburdened by hunger pangs or bursts of paranoia. How to control a computer telepathically, to the extent of one day piloting an aircraft without touching the controls. Mighty budgets, edgy labs and Nobel prize winners are being utilised to extend the horizons of human capacity into realms previously the province Greek Gods, except this isnt mythology. According to a feet-on-the ground futurist, Joel Garreau, the author off Radical Evolution, we are in the forefront of the engineered revolution of mankind. I havent even finished his first chapter, but the cascading examples have stopped me up in my tracks. Like a toddler wandering onto a Hollywood set and watching the birth of Frankenstein. But this isnt a movie thats being produced. Its the future. And its being funded by the US military.
XING Danwen, Born 1967 Xi'an, Shaanxi province: Born with the Cultural Revolution, 1995.
This photograph come from a series documenting people of Xing Danwen's generation, born at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. The pregnant woman is a close friend of the artist, who - like many in the early 1990s - was a collector of Mao memorabilia. 'Under Mao, there was no separation between the private world of the individual, the family, and the public political realm.' The photographs suggest contradictory feelings towards this period of history.
BE ALL YOU CAN BE
AND MORE, AND YET LESS.
Yes, the guys who gave us Guantanamo Bay, pre-emptive strikes and nuclear arsenals are now in the throes of creating the Metabolically Dominant Soldier (MDS). The military is tinkering with the machinery of human cells to create a soldier who can perform 300 pull-ups and walk forever with a 150-pound pack. Tomorrows killers with X-Ray vision will be primed to bomb and shoot around the clock for weeks on end. No need for food, sleep or even medics, as the MDS can stem bleeding by thought control (!), and will be immune to pain. A vaccination will block intense pain in less than 10 seconds. Its effects last for 30 days, all part of a program called Persistence in Combat. So far there hasnt been a reference to mastering the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War.
HUANG Yan, Born 1966 Jilin province
Chinese Landscape - Tattoo, 1999
To make these pieces, the painter and poet Huang Yan covered a model's torso with white powder and then applied ink and paint in the manner of the traditional Chinese 'scholar artists'. These artists were civil servants who used landscape painting as an escape from their daily responsibilities. Recalling this attitude, Huang Yan writes that 'landscape is an abode in which my mortal body can reside, landscape is my rejection of worldly wrangling, landscape is a release for my Buddhist ideas.'
SOLDIERS FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE
Much of the funding for radical evolutionaries is provided by DARPA (Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency), whose goal is to create human beings who are unstoppable. This is in contrast with the timeless wisdom of such mystics and Meister Eckhart, who taught we progress by stopping. Its silly to be picky about a book I havent yet finished, and Joel Garreau is a smart and lucid explorer, but it is tempting to wonder what his billion dollar eggheads would be researching if the funds came from a less bellicose source. Conflict resolution, perhaps, or the infinite provision of cheap, tasty, nutritious food, or sharpening the desire of the Military for social justice, or creating innovations for living sustainably, or re-engineering democracy so its no longer a sham. Am I dreaming too big? Okay, lets think small. How about creating the Morally Dominant Soldier? Someone who knows in their soul that its WRONG to wipe out a household of women and children on the hunch that a suspect is inside.
C-type print Courtesy of the artist
ZHU Ming, Born 1972 Changsha, Hunan province.
Zhu Ming uses bubbles in his performances to evoke the fleetingness of life and feelings of isolation from society. This photograph documents a performance that took place in Beijing. The artist sealed himself inside a bubble and then coated the inside with Chinese ink. After 40 minutes, the bubble was pumped full of water. The photograph records the moment when the paint was washed away and the naked artist emerged into the open.
FULL MANY A GLORIOUS
MORNINGS HAVE WE SEEN
Is it true, as Nancy Goldstein writes in her searing portrait of this Gilded Age, that todays lack of effective dissent is secured by the substitution of consumer choice for genuine political choice, and abetted by a lazy, corporate-run media? The list of deadly threats facing the world Ive been chronicling since first stalking the conference stage as a futurist, seems to get longer/darker every time I open a newspaper. Tucked away the other day was the Howl of James Lovelock, devisor of the Gaia hypothesis, who warns that billions Earthlings will die by the end of the century, and civilisation as it is known is unlikely to survive. Burp, pass the Red Bull. Somehow, the more the ice caps melt, the more we run off to the beach - and why not? These snaps of Bondi captures a certain something of summer 06, and only a killjoy could wish anything less than fun and adventure for the upcoming gens. Our ingenuity is remarkable, IQs seem to be soaring. Out of left field the next leap will come, like Iceland suddenly breaking an addiction to fossil fuel, Bhutan pursuing Gross National Happiness. In battered shoes and bright sweaters the dispossessed of Latin American sweep into high office. Today no less than three World Social Forums in Venezuela, Mali, Pakistan are convening to nourish democracy and opportunity through the power of open debate and grass roots solidarity, not spin and bombs. The dreadful old buzzards who dragged us into the lands of civilisations ancestors to kill and be killed, will slink back into their gilded lairs. The artists and idealists will again emerge naked into the open, lighting the way for leaders driven by values and vision, instead of bigotry and the calculator. True leaders who know the future can no longer be taken for granted, and that another world is taking wing.
WAS IT WORTH IT AFTER ALL,
THE DAGGER ARGUMENTS
AND DESIGNER DRUGS ?
Journal of a Futurist - 19 December 2005
In the 1943 thriller I read on the flight to Phuket, the hero/narrator casts a cynical eye on the citizens of a Californian town on the skids: Haggard landladies bicker with shifty tenants
and old men sit staring at nothing on wide cool porches with faces like lost battles. Raymond Chandler the pen, Phillip Marlowe the voice. Fly cops with granite faces and unwavering eyes mingle with people who look like nothing in particular and know it. And then a phrase that nails my crowd: worn intellectuals with cigarette coughs and no money in the bank. I down another shot of in-flight gin and try to feel hard bitten. Was it worth it after all, our dagger words, the midnight arguments, our pamphlets, our rants, our taunting of the Bush-appeasers who condone blood-spilling without contrition, who wreck nature without regret?
I mean, how many Western chauvinists read our pesky blogs and cry, Okay, okay, I was wrong to look away while the coalition trashed Iraq. Tomorrow Ill join the Greens. The reason most people are looking away is because theyre looking after their family, their future. Too busy to research, too in debt to rock the boat.
Prior to the flight, I was asked to address a Balmain salon of worn intellectuals with marijuana coughs and no retirement fund. The group meets monthly. I love salons, or at least the idea of salons, because one day therell be a fiery speech of the kind now banned under Australias new terror-panic laws and well surround Parliament with a load of hand-me-down ideas and first rate designer drugs, chanting wind power to the people. During my closing riff, I said that responsibility for the bloodbath of Iraq belongs to the invaders, just as the blame for a fire which destroys a town falls on those who lit the match. The Australian Prime Minister is one of the instigators, which makes all of us, to a degree, complicit in his crimes. Thats not true, yelled an unworn student , spoiling my big finish, I didnt vote for John Howard.
WATCH IT AND ASK,
WHAT HAVE WE BECOME?
Its a mystery that our Prime Minister ever got elected, because no-one admits to voting for him. But maybe the interjection was valid. That by not casting a vote for a politician who commits a crime, and dutifully going about your everyday life, watching bad movies, applying moisturiser, talkn about the footy, etc, is enough to absolve you from a sense of guilt when the whole world wakes up to whats really been going on in our secret gulags, and about bloody time, little thanks to mainstream media. Abu Ghraib was hors doeuvres. Dont worry, Im not going to bang on about it anymore, in this my last rave for the year, hopefully my last ever about the war. (Yes, fingers crossed! Now can you fix the garden furniture? Wife) You can be sure that the West will be held to account, however long it takes, and new generations in scores of nations will ask, echoing Nuremberg, how did you let your leaders do it? What will we say? I didnt know it was happening. I didnt vote for them. I was watching Big Brother.
There is a scene in the Spielberg movie, Schindler's List (1993), which catches the essence of the holocaust, in all its insouciant depravity. The concentration camp boss sits on a veranda with a rifle on his knee, entertaining guests (I think), as the doomed inmates trudge about their duties. Every so often, he picks up the gun and shoots a Jew. For no reason other than malice and target practice. A similar scene has been playing out on the road to Baghdad airport, courtesy of our coalitions mercenaries. Heres the video-link. Watch it and ask, what have we become?
(For two other chilling video links, and the usual array of alternative insights, visit HOTLINKS in the right hand column).
AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE, OY OY OY,
YOB YOB YOB
John Howard hitched our wagon to falling star. By siding with the global bully, he stained our soul and stirred up demons. We are unique in the West for refusing to condemn the Guantanamo Inquisitions. We turn a blind eye to systemic sadism, banned weapons, targeted assassinations (often of the innocent). We trumpet the nobility of our own military and cloak its unsavoury deeds in secrecy. Our Department of Immigration is driven by a culture of cruelty masquerading as incompetence, for which its instigator is promoted to Attorney General. Now he is laying the foundations of a police state, as MurdochWorld applauds. Howard keeps claiming the two Bali bombings are unrelated to our role in the terror wars, because the first attack, October 2002, preceded our invasion of Iraq. But it FOLLOWED our October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
Deep down, Howard must know that his playing of deputy to an ignoble sheriff has helped inflame terror in our region, cost tens of thousands of innocent lives and may well land him in the international criminal court. His political strategy is to heighten fear, pump up patriotism, glorify war, trash the academy. His famous, we decide who comes to Australia, was meant to scare the heartland, conjuring barbarians at the gate. And sure, hooning Lebanese Aussie adolescents can be obnoxious and frightening, as can Anglo Aussie meatheads who think theyre Anzacs on the sands of Gallipoli. Howard has helped turn us into a bunch of self congratulating flag waving materialist pisspots singing our own praises, oy oy oy, yob yob yob, screaming death to the wog wog wog. At heart, these are his people, the only constituency he ever cared about, the ones he sucks up to on the shock jock airways, the biffos who love his military parades, his anti intellectuality, his climate change denial, his medieval mindset, his taking us from a lucky, plucky, good natured land to an Ugly Oz in a single backflip, vomiting as we light our farts on Reality TV.
The day I arrive in Thailand, thankfully not aboard a CIA torture flight, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is sitting on a massive golden throne, delivering his annual birthday speech. It looks like a pompous Royal ceremony, all show and no substance, until I check out what hes saying. The Kings speech is utterly without guile and spin. It is self effacing, it is healing. It stands up for the right to dissent. It offers a rebuke to the Thai Prime Minister for trying to silence his critics with lawsuits. It unfolds a vision of a sustainable, efficient Thailand , one powered entirely by renewable energy (much of it palm oil, which he is developing). The King is candid about his short-comings. His words are a window to an eccentric, subtle and compassionate mind. It is not a speech that a Bush, a Blair or a Howard could ever conceive, much less deliver. It is a reminder that the measure of a nation is not the measure of its GDP. A countrys true wealth is derived from its values. When these values are enshrined in the actions of those at the top, then mutual respect becomes the intangible currency that empowers the population. The morning after the Kings speech the Prime Minister, Mr Thaksin, publicly withdrew all lawsuits against his critics.
Happy Xmas, everyone.
Therell be bilious sermons, a vile effusion of plastic crap under plastic trees. Carols that make the blood curdle. Therell be gongs for timid public servants who kept their traps shut. Military chaplains will reassure the troops of their sacred duty to keep dropping bombs from midnight skies on restive Iraqi villages, and never make it public. All this and more, praise the Lord. Our collective stupor will persist to Australia Day. Sure, Ill drink a schooner of Tooheys under the Southern Cross and propose a toast to the all the worn out intellectuals of the world, a toast to feisty bloggers and threadbare idealists stretching from Bangkok to Baghdad to Byron Bay and beyond, to all the NGOs, the human rights guerrillas, the ABC truth seekers, the haggard Pilger, Fisk, Monbiot, Dahr Jamail, even the bewildered plane spotters who provided proof of the CIAs numerous torture flights, to many more, to the latecomer peaceniks, multiplying by the minute, to all opinion shapers not funded by corporations or fearful of Murdoch, to everyone, everywhere, whose role is to slide the peas under fatcat mattresses, to keep the liars tossing and turning at night, worrying about how much we know and why we wont shut up, and to remind them
. we are everywhere.
POST SCRIPT, SHORT TAKES,
BACK TO THE FUTURE
This site was launched in August 2001 to explore the future. A month later came the wild-card attacks on America and the resulting politics of revenge. Such was the hysteria, the disinformation and the loony war-mongering, that the future seemed best served by offering an alternative perspective: suspicion of the coalitions motives, disgust at the methods, the certainty of a bloodbath, etc. Back then, to question the nobility of Americas agenda was tantamount to treason; even our smarter politicians regarded the White House as imbued with the aura of Abraham Lincoln. No longer. What was once seen as defeatist and conspiratorial is now regarded as prophetic. The mainstream media has been cut down to size. Lofty conservative voices are finally speaking out, the neocons are virtually a laughing stock. The Iraqis have paid the heaviest price, but heres hoping their suffering will diminish and a new future can begin, an attitude reflected with more wisdom by the BBCs departing correspondent. Even now, you can go to the main emergency hospital in Baghdad at any time, and you are likely to find Iraqis injured by mistake by US troops, BBC 17 Dec 05, though not always by mistake. Anyway, the plan next year is to keep the wider global future in focus, and leave much of the US specific political commentary for my spot at opednews.com, the last one ABSURDS THE WORD - posted from the isle of Phuket.
Okay, enjoy the break. Personal Best Fiction of the year, Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami; Best Non Fiction, for all its coyness, the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins, understandably under-reviewed; the Worst Movie of the Century, so far, Mr & Mrs Smith, which, despite the bizarre rave reviews is a nasty, noxious one joke hymn to collateral damage, assassination on demand and kicking the wife for kicks. Mr and Mrs Smith is every bit a sign of cultural decline as the three videos featured on HOTLINKS, all of which I would love to thoroughly deconstruct. See ya. Mrs N wants me to trim the hedge.
PS - as I finish this year, I want to thank the one person who ensures my rambles are uploaded on time. She tells me she never reads a word... but I couldn't have done it without her. Thanks webmistress.
Journal of a Futurist - 20 November 2005 - The Land That Said No
I never appreciated the metaphor of a frog placed in a saucepan of water and so gradually brought to the boil, that it expires unawares, until I flew to New Zealand. Landing at midnight, the change of atmosphere was palpable. Clearing customs a breeze; free tea and baggage trolleys, an absence of gun toting ninjas. I had come to deliver a keynote on the future of recreation, despite its lack in my current incarnation. According to the conference brochure, recreation is at the heart of our identity, quality of life, health and wellbeing. New Zealand is an appropriate setting for such an event, themed AT THE HEART, being a land that still has one.
Wellingtons sun-flattered harbour foreshores throbs with the fit: toddlers scaling a mighty artificial cliff, while their carers belayed ropes; kayaks bobbing, skateboards zooming, geriatrics jogging. The citys museums and art galleries are free to the public, open seven days a week. The multi media public library is as packed as a dance party. Adorning Cuba Street are quirky sculptures created by council workers, even the manhole covers are individually engraved. In the distance, a busker-with-sax tackles Miles Davis. The virtues of Wellington are listed as compact, cultural and creative, but there is more to it than that. This is a city without fear. In three days I never saw a cop, not even a security guard. The doors of corporate buildings were open wide, no identity tags, no patdowns. Why are you all so bloody friendly? I asked the Kiwi at the cappuccino bar. Because weve still got what Australia once had. Yep, what we had before we joined the Bush crusade. I felt like the frog fallen from saucepan into a pond. How simple it had been to ignore the rising heat back home. To loll in the Jacuzzi of forgetfulness, until the heart stopped.
New Zealand resisted the call of the Devils bugle, and has grown in moral stature. Australia, on the other hand, puffed up with self importance, still dances to the madmans jig as it sinks into the abyss.
WHO DOESNT LIKE NEW ZEALAND?
On the weekend I arrived in Wellington, a navy frigate shuddered from a series of explosions and burst into a ball of orange flames. Two minutes later, like a scene from Pearl Harbour, it sank to the bottom of the sand. Was Osama bin Laden grinning in his cave, or from the grave? Not really. The ship was scuttled to provide a dive attraction. In the spirit of swords into ploughshares, the wreckage will be transformed by Neptune into an artificial reef, providing a future haven for barnacles, lobsters and scuba divers. If only all weapons of war were put to such use. Who doesnt like the new New Zealand? One person doesnt, and his identity will come as no surprise.
Can you guess? Yup, the new United States ambassador, Bill McCormick, a seafood tycoon, who achieved his posting by tossing gold at Republicans, and probably a few crates of crayfish. McCormick warned New Zealand that its relations with Washington will not improve until it drops its 1985 ban on all things nuclear, including US warships. Then he attacked the nation for not attacking Iraq: "It is always disappointing when there isn't participation by a freedom-loving country . . . in a very important matter". That is, murdering civilians, torturing POWs at will, often as a kind of recreation, and using chemical weapons (Also see HOTLINKS in the right hand column). New Zealands Prime Minister, Helen Clark, the former headmistress of the St Trinians Girls School, politely told the ambassador to jump in the harbour. The Australian Government, meanwhile, licks the shoes of visiting Torturer General Donald Rumsfeld and offers him the outback as a bombing range.
In Wellington, the local newspaper mocked McCormick for reinforcing the image of the US as a swaggering superpower, strutting the world in the expectation that small countries such as New Zealand will simply fall into line. What this nation was not willing to do, much to US displeasure, is blindly embark on foreign adventures that are dubious ethically and ill-conceived strategically. New Zealand followed the US into the quagmire of Vietnam. Wisely, it has not repeated that folly in Iraq. The long standing friendship between the two countries does not and should not mean blind allegiance. A more experienced diplomat than Mr McCormick would know that. What a change from the appeasing drivel dished up by the Australian media. But of course! New Zealand is a Murdoch free zone. Hallelulah!
The soul of John Howards Australia. (Artwork: Tracy Emin)
Free of its press, that is, though not of his presence, as I discovered on the hotel TV.
A FIT AND PROPER PERSON
TO HOLD A LICENCE?
Two desperate old hams from Fox News, the Beltway Boys, were trying to shore up the White House with falsehoods:
- "Those aluminum tubes really proved Iraq was about to go nuclear. All they proved was a forgery.
- Dont blame President for being wrong about Iraqs weapons. Why not? His team manipulated the data and turned a deaf ear to contrary views. As former President Jimmy Carter again affirmed, the war was hatched before 9/11.
- Saddam Husseins regime definitely fostered Al Qaeda. Not even the CIA believes that.
How odd that Rupert Murdoch is considered a fit person to hold a broadcasting license, when his lies cost so many lives. Its also odd that the CIA has failed to list itself as a terrorist organisation. What do their agents say to their partners at dinner? A pretty dull day, really, kidnapped a few suspects in Italy, had them tortured in Iceland. Called in a strike on a terrorist cell in Makr al-Deeb, but it was a bunch of rag heads getting married. Oooops! We denied it of course
..Did I mention the waterboarding in Bagram?
THE THEME PARK TO END ALL
You might be fed up with hearing about this dirty war, but Im even more fed up with writing about it. Theres all sorts of buzzy stuff coming down the pipeline, like The Singularity, the moment when runaway advances outstrip human comprehension and all our knowledge and experience becomes useless as a guidepost to the future (Bruce Sterling), but the War to Spread Terror is fouling tomorrow and needs to be scrutinised. Futurists bury their heads in bio-tech, robot-tech, nano-tech, which is mind blowing and all that, oft funded by the military, but the carnage in Iraq needs to be resolved, not ignored. We threw the first bomb.
Now we have constructed a bigger theme park than the one we set out to demolish. Welcome to SaddamsWorld, Global. Nastier than the original. More jails, more inmates, more torture, more spin. Weve recruited some of the old personnel, like the secret police and the indomitable Donald Rumsfeld, now back in charge of Chemical Weapons. Its a mirror all right, but we mostly look the other way.
The result of phosphorus, as used in Fallujah.
THANKS TO THE READER WHO SENT THIS ANCIENT CARTOON, TO REMIND US ALL OF THE CYCLES
THANKS TO REG MOMBASSA FOR THIS COMMENT
ON THE DESTRUCTION OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
One of the numerous unknown soldiers featured in the "wife/girlfriend" section of the controversial sex-for-death-pics site.
Journal of a Futurist - 30 September 2005
Washington, Warporn and Wild Wild Weather
It wasnt only the way he spoke or what he said that betokened an inner crisis for George W Bush, it was the befuddlement that dulled his eyes. Everything he held dear was falling apart. The most powerful man in the world was telling his people to limit the use of their cars. Even as he mouthed the words, Bush looked like he wanted to eat them. At Brazils environmental summit in 92, his father had famously issued a stern warning to Earth: The American way of life is not negotiable, and now the White House was waving the white flag.
It was not the option he favoured. You can imagine the scenes at the Oval Office, the President in a flight suit pounding the table: Lets declare a war on the weather!
Who dared to tell him? You already have! From his first days as President, Bush and his friends at Big Oil had doctored the data on Global Warming, cut funds for climate mitigation and bribed journalists to fling mud at environmentalists. So successful was this strategy, that it was adapted to pump up support for the conquest of Iraq spread lies, embed the media, fling mud. Securing the oil was part of the plan.
FUELLING TOMORROWS NIGHTMARES
Now that the chickens have come home to roost, what do the chicken hawks do? While over a 100,000 peace protesters converged on the White House last weekend, the chicken-hawk-in-chief took flight. I dont want to get in the way of relief efforts, he said, as he proceeded to get in the way. Among images of Rita flashing onscreen, was one of a battered oil plant emblazoned with the slogan: EXXON, fuelling Americas dreams. Exactly. The dream that oil will last forever, that our lifestyle is not negotiable, that the killing over a 100,000 Iraqis is worth it, that Gods on our side.
The dazed look on the face of Bush is that of someone who has woken from a wonderful dream to find himself in a prison, a prison of his own construction. It turns out that climate change is not a figment of green paranoia, but a wrecker of oil rigs, communities and Presidential repute. Instead of boosting the flow of oil from Iraq, his illegal invasion has slashed the countrys output by three quarters of a million barrels a day. Instead of a hero, he is a scoundrel.
And thats not all. Something more important than the supply of oil has been diminished by his actions in Iraq. And by the echoing actions of Australian Prime Minister, John Howard. Dare I say it? Perhaps youre thinking, reputation, but this is about something even more vital than Brand America, also in a tailspin. Were talking about a nations soul.
Not that of its citizens, who possess soul and spirit in abundance, but of its public persona, its governing ethos, its aura.
VIRTUE, TRANSPARENCY, THE LONG VIEW FAREWELL!
A similar decline is happening in Australian, unaccompanied by robust dissent, so this is not a sneer from higher ground. Our politicians compete with each other to peel away civil rights. In lieu of a terrorist attack, we suffer panic attacks. A Ghandi inspired American peace activist was locked up by our secret police and deported, with barely a blip of protest.
In Iraq, the collapse of honour and moral courage is blatant. Human Rights Watch reports that soldiers in the US Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division systematically tortured Iraqi detainees for a whole year, breaking limbs with metal baseball bats and dousing eyes with chemicals.This is on top of depriving prisoners of sleep, food and water, subjecting them to extreme heat and cold, stacking prisoners in human pyramids and kicking them in the face. Officers often instructed the soldiers to "smoke" detainees, meaning to abuse them until they lost consciousness. The motive was not always to gain intelligence, according to a sergeant, it was a sport.
Drawing on similar reports of systemic brutality, most of the victims had probably committed no crime, unlike most of the troops of the 82nd Airborne Division, who turned up in New Orleans and again behaved like thugs. One of its soldiers warned media reps that if they took pictures or wrote about the body recovery process, their press credentials would be shredded and they would be kicked out of the state, an improvement on being kicked in the face.
MEDALS, BRASS BANDS,
PATS ON THE BACK
This week at the American University in Washington, Mr Viges, who also served with the 82nd Airborne Division, offered an extraordinary insight into the dehumanising impact of war. Viges revealed that indiscriminate fire from US troops is likely to have killed an untold number of Iraqi civilians and that he was still haunted by the memories: "I had days that I don't want to remember. His battalion was ordered to open fire on all taxis in the city of Samawa because it was believed they might be transporting Iraqi forces. Of course no soldier will be charged. Medals will glitter on chests.
Found in the car - dirty work at the crossroads?
The Australian military consorts with this torture regime, but our own Government denies culpability and blocks media access to files and possible witnesses. We are good people, remember, the Others are evil. And lets not ask why two British undercover soldiers were driving a car in Basra that reportedly contained wigs, Arabic headgear, explosives and detonators. (For more info, see HOTLINKS - on the right)
PATRIOTISM AND NECROPHILIA
ON PORNO PLANET
A new generation is learning that fellow humans who are under suspicion, despite being citizens of a country the Coalition is supposedly liberating, can be brutalized at will, even exterminated, with absolute impunity, both moral and legal. The stench of this degradation is starting to percolate the homeland. Soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have long been taking snaps of the enemy dead, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces, and sending them to a web site. In exchange for permission to post these images, the soldiers get free access to porn. While the death images are vomitous, it is not their display that curdles the blood. In fact, I believe the exclusion of such images from the mass media advances the cause of the warmongers. It shields the public from the horrors of whats been unleashed in their name. No, what is truly terrifying, is the attitude of these soldiers towards the people theyve killed.
A picture of a victim lying in a pool of his own brains and entrails is captioned, "What every Iraqi should look like." A corpse whose jaw has rotted away, is mocked with the phrase, "bad day for this dude."
A group of young Marines in fatigues laugh and smile for the camera while pointing at a burned, charcoal-black body: cooked Iraqi. And so on. To be fair, the website warns, if you have a problem with dead terrorists please don't look here. But what if we have a problem with deadened soldiers?
- Bring the troops back home.
- Treat their incipient psychopathology.
- Hold to account those at the top whose defiance of the UN is responsible for the bloodbath.
POST SCRIPT: FRAGMENTS, NOTES, QUOTES, OFFCUTS
What people fail to realise is that we do not need to erode civil liberties to prevent terrorism. We simply need an ethical and just foreign policy. Letter on BBC website.
US WARPLANE BOMBS HOME, KILLING A FAMILY
In a dispatch posted at 11:35am Mecca time Friday morning, Mafkarat al-Islam reported that a short while earlier a US fighter plane had bombed a two-story house owned by a local resident in the middle of al-Qaim, a city in western Iraq near the Syrian border.
The al-Qaim correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported witnesses as saying that seven people a man, his wife, two girls, and two elderly women were killed in the American air attack.
The correspondent reported that the Director of the Emergency Ward of the city hospital told the press that all the seven family members died instantly in the attack and that the body of one woman, aged 80 according to neighbors, was still under the rubble. Rescue teams were working on its recovery. At the time of reporting, US forces had made no comment on their attack.
Published: September 10, 2005 Author: Mafkarat al-Islam, Mohammed Abu Nasr translation
HE IS NO GREAT CIVIL LIBERTARIAN HIMSELF, BUT
"The British and American bomber pilots came, unopposed, safe and cosy in their state-of-the-art aircraft, pressing buttons to drop bombs, to kill and maim," Mr Mahathir said. "And these murderers, for that is what they are, would go back to celebrate 'Mission Accomplished'.
"Who are the terrorists? The people below who were bombed, or the bombers? Whose rights have been snatched away? - Malaysia's former leader, Mahathir Mohamad, Sept 9/05.
THE AMAZING AMANDA
In the last three months, nearly 300 asylum seekers detained in camps by Australian immigration officials have tried to harm themselves. The head of the department, Amanda Vanstone, was last seen in a Bush-like photo-op extravaganza, tearing down the razor wire erected by her demonic forebear. Amanda was less visible a few days later, when the razor wire was replaced with an electric fence. This week a robotic doll is to be launched by J. Shackelford & Associates, who will greet her first owner with the words, "We're going to have the best time together. This hot new toy is marketed under the name, Amazing Amanda, $99.
Unlike the real-life Amanda, robo-doll will listen and show emotion. Some analysts who have played with her, say Amanda represents an evolutionary leap from earlier talking models, like Crazy Germaine of the 1960's, a doll that cycled through a collection of bizarre speeches when a child pulled a cord in its back.
Smarter Than Your Daughter
Radio frequency tags in Amanda's accessories - including toy food, potty and clothing - wirelessly keep the doll informed. For instance, if Amanda asks for a bucket full of peas, potatoes, pork chops and lashings of ice cream and is fobbed off with a plastic cookie, she will have her owner deported to Uzbekistan.
Its inventor, Ms. Shackelford, is trying a new frontier with Amazing Amanda, convinced that it will stoke a girl's imagination, not take its place.The pre-release model of Amazing Amanda, once it was activated (by flipping the toy's only visible switch hidden high on its back and beneath its clothing), woke with a yawn, slowly opened its eyes and started asking questions in a cutesy, almost cartoonlike girl's voice.
What the doll is actually doing, Ms. Shackelford said, is "voice printing" the primary user's voice pattern. By asking a child to repeat "Amanda" several times, the doll quickly comes to recognize and store in its electronic memory that child's voice, and only that child's voice, as its "mommy." Other voices are greeted with Amanda's cautionary proclamation, "You don't sound like Mommy, and unless she is satisfied, Amanda can dial up the immigration police.
The doll is equipped for almost an hour of speech that includes misleading responses, policy statements, and the hymns of Hillsong. And as Amanda speaks, the doll's soft-plastic lips move and its face, using Disney-like animatronics, help to suggest expressions of compassion.
Some 150 pages of logic are programmed into Amanda so she can assist the children of refugees to spy on their parents and keep lists of foreign peace activists.
"The idea that a child can be led is so important to me," notes her creator, Amandas sophisticated surveillance technologies must be invisible. Ms. Shackelford, who says she is in her mid-60's, wears sensible shoes and has no children of her own, explains, "You have a baby doll that is supposed to make a little girl feel like the doll loves her. Girls tell dolls all the time that they love them."This doll," Ms. Shackelford said, "acts like she loves you." She laughs. But its just an act!.
Amazing Amanda crushes the asylum seeker from outer space.
Links for 1 March journal
Links for 19 December journal
First, three creepy video links:
DECLINE OF THE WEST 1
A TERRORIST SABOTAGE MANUAL:
THEATRE OF THE ABSURDS LATEST SCRIPT
Links for 20 November journal
And took another week for the news to reach the Australia press, which, like the BBC, omitted this vital proof
THE SAME ATTEMPT TO HOAX THE WORLD ABOUR NAPALM ALSO BACKFIRED.
Links for 30 September journal